If F1 is the pinnacle of racing, then surely the car that wins an F1 race must be the pinnacle of racing cars, right? Well, neither side of that equation is all that true, and every so often a genuinely bad F1 car sneaks to the top of the podium.
This little video put together by Autosport of The 10 Worst F1 Cars To Win A Grand Prix is a pretty decent watch, and an interesting frame for what could be a number of different videos. You could call it The 10 Most Unpredictable Grands Prix, or The 10 Times Amazing Drivers Pushed Underperforming Vehicles To Win, or who knows what else. The central theme is less about any particular F1 car being bad so much as a number of F1 races proving to be, yeah, unpredictable.
The dominant cars expected to win had engine issues perhaps and left a lower car to collect the win, or normally dominant drivers crashed unexpectedly and let a slower driver pass for a win, and so on.
Indeed, not every one of these surprise wins were carried out by super high-performing drivers, as you’d associate with like, Senna nearly winning Monaco in a Toleman, of all the things. A fair number were with drivers who got their only wins in these same GPs. F1 isn’t a meritocracy.
Alright, you’ll want to watch the video above to hear why, but here’s the list of cars from Autosport:
- 2009 Ferrari F60 (no double diffuser, bad weight with early KERS)
- 1977 Shadow DN8 (a year old, and not good when it was new)
- 2008 Toro Rosso STR3 (an old Red Bull with the wrong engine)
- 1983 Tyrell 011B (a naturally-aspirated car in the age of turbos)
- 1981 Ferrari 126CK (a turbo engine but a bad chassis)
- 1996 Ligier JS43 (Not the best car of 1996. More like the 7th best.)
- 1984 Williams FW09 (maybe the laggiest of the lag-heavy turbo cars, which made them unpredictable to drive and difficult to control)
- 1966 Lotus 43 (one of F1's least reliable cars somehow not the lastin a raceto break down)
- 1955 Ferrari 625 (not a Mercedes, when you needed a Benz to win)
- 2003 Jordan EJ13 (even the designer knew it was trash, but some weird weather helped)
A few of these cars do, genuinely, hit the mark of being bad. The Lotus that ran a 3.0-liter H16 made out of two 1.5-liter V8s is a particular charmer, as is the Jordan that caught fire after finishing the race it won.
I myself am a big fan of Olivier Panis, the guy who would later get into a fight at an ice race on camera, sliding (as seen above) a fire-spitting Ligier through a wet Monaco 1996 for his only race win and Ligier’s last.